Dr. Jack Cush’s Keynote Address

Dr. John J. Cush, MD, a member of SGU’s second graduating MD class, urged students at the School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony to view all challenges, both small and large, as an adventure to be embraced and met head on with dignity and determination.  

What Defines You

Senator Antoine, Chancellor Modica, University Deans, Parents, guests, Ladies and gentlemen… and my fellow classmates.

It is a tremendous and humbling honor to be here with you today.  As a graduate of SGU, this is truly great to return to GRENADA, my 2nd home, to address my mentors, peers and you – my new colleagues in medicine.  My debt of gratitude to this institution cannot be quantified.  Equally large is my respect and sense of responsibility to you – the life blood and future of this institution.

I am like you.  I once sat where you now sit – eager and anxious at the start of medical school.  I am a graduate of SGUSOM who has been blessed with unexpected opportunity and achievements beyond my early expectations.  The years and accomplishments have come fast, but at a moment like that, one can only pause and wonder how did I get here; why me?  From this day forward you are medical students.  Today you can write MSI after your name…then MS2, 3, 4 until you can finally place an MD after your name.  Ladies and gentlemen you will earn the alphabet soup that follows your name thru blood, sweat, and tears – and tuition.  You give us 4.5 years of excellence and we will give you an MD and a world that desparately needs your compassion intellect and skill.  Along with this degree comes a wealth of opportunity, public stature, responsibility and a life of purpose and clarity.

Every MSI and Graduate of SGUSOM started their professional pathway with this great burden of challenge in front of them.  Ive too have been rejected, doubted, advised to go elsewhere; but here we are … meeting the challenge.  For this I applaud you and warn you – it will only get worse from here on out.

This summer I heard a troubled sports figure quote Mohandes Gandhi, “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. ”  The spirt of adversity resonates with many graduates of St. Georges Univ School of Medicine.  More important has been their consistent ability to recognize adversity, then overcome and master it. This is a shared adventure that you too have signed on to.
Adventure– defined as act involving risk or surprise.  So for many of us our first adventure was this weekends travel to Grenada during Hurricaine Dean.  Interminable delays, cancellations, airport attitudes, bad food, etc.  As a pampered 1st class 200,000 mile a year traveler I would normally have been as irate and perturbed as any, but watching our new students and their families was a curious and familiar event and hence I watched much of this with great amazement.  The disconcerted, disconnected med student travelor was not me, but was now you.  Most coped, some behaved badly and thankfully some upper classmen were present to mollify the angst.  I proudly thought, their first lesson has begun.

“An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered. “
Events such as these, maybe trying, but they are also formative. You will be faced with may equally difficult and unfathomable predictaments in your medical lives.  These events will test your metal as a person and a physician.  In my first trip to SGU and Grenada, the flight was also delayed and we arrived without any luggage.  Being a hefty guy finding replacement clothing in downtown St. Georges was impossible.  However, one clothing shop did have an XL pair of baggy swim shorts for me. Unfortunately they were PINK.
“An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered. “

Adventures are about the unexpected. 

Some adventures are the result of will, others by fate, some by scholarship.  Robert Louis Stevenson once said  “The most beautiful adventures are not those we go to seek”. St. Georges University and medical school will introduce you to many new and very real adventures. Whether you like it or not, they define you.  They become great when you rise to the occasion and master it.  They become sadly memorable, and deeply educational when we fail to control or manage them.  So your medical education and your medical lives will be a curious interplay of great triumph and occasional disappointment.

While you’ve all chosen medicine because of your love of mankind, your desires to alleviate suffering and hopes for an effectively applied intellect, you’ve overlooked a common truth – that bad things happen to good people.  That’s right….you’ve all chosen to go into the bad news biz. “Mrs Swanson, your husband just died 20 minutes ago in the OR”  or “Mr Raffert you have pancreatic cancer and only 4 months to live”  or “Frank….to have the worse case of bad breath Ive ever witnessed.  Can you wait outside … no I mean outside the building, while I figure out what we are going to do”.  The patients will be both good and bad, young and poor, family and foe, cooperative or unkind.  The only constant is you and what you bring to the table – your intellect, your effort and your kindness.  But where do these skills come from?

A recent presidential debate introduced a question about the power of prayer. Most candidates were unsure of the preventative power of prayer, but all agreed on the healing capacity of prayer.  Prayer or thoughtful introspection often helps you find the strength to endure that which was previously unthinkable. There is no chapter, textbook, formula or pat answers for the tough stuff in life or medicine. Yet, you (the doctor) will be expected to provide wisdom, solace and leadership during the difficult moments of death and disease.

Do not wrongly consider these difficulties, challenges and inconveniences. Instead, recognize that great lessons start here in Grenada (often disguised as adventures and challenges) and will continue throughout your education and career.  Each is an opportunity for you to learn and to master adversity.  You are now in a position of great influence.  In times of trouble, many will come to you…the MS1,2,3,4 or MD – Because your suppose to know. For goodness sake you got a 27 on the MCAT!! Much is expected of you….please do not disappoint me, or your mother or yourself.

In the course of these adventures you will be sharing your path of enlightenment and greatness with your classmates, your family, your faculty. Our faculty is superb. You should expect much from them as they expect much of you. The notoriety of our faculty is evident. The national weather service has decided to name its hurricanes after our faculty. This weekends hurricane was an attempt to honor our many notable Deans.  Faculty, family and classmates – these are the people who will deliver you, the coat tails you will need to grab onto at times. Be good to them, love them, show them your appreciation and above all listen to them. While you may be the “doctor” or the MSII – your still the guy or girl who cant clean your room, balance a check book or burn water on the stove.

Some Advice for Entering Freshmen.

1) SLOW DOWN & CHILL – don’t raise your voice or blood pressure. Respect and action are more easily achieved with a smile than a shout of crazed urgency. Your NY minute does not register on a west Indian clock. Realize that a 4 wk a transition period is needed before youll calm down enough to understand the pace, the pronounciations and the policies  of this island and school.

2)  Welcome to bug island. We have bugs the size of fondue pots. There were here first and …oh and theyre here on scholarship. Don’t waste time trying to kill them. Divert them and ignore them

3) Stop talking dollars & start talkin EC ($10US = 26EC  OR  10EC.=$3.73US)

4) If at 1st you dont succeed – blame your roommate.

5) When the going gets tough – the tough goes for a run, or goes to kickboxing class.  Theres true wisdom in the healthy mind and healthy body connection.  Make yourself healthy for a lifetime of greatness. It starts here where you only need to focus on your health and scholastic achievement.

6) True Blue is not Grenada. – Get to know Grenada; read a book, visit the museum, find a  get a favorite waiter; go to church; read the paper watch videos Heartbreak ridge or Island in the Sun.  It would be a wasted education if you left grenada without knowing grenada.

7) Learn how to learn. Make use of the universities Department of Educational Services (DES).

8) Realize that how you treat each other today will predict how you will treat your patients in the future.  Kindness and respect are skills that need constant attention, especially while living as guests in grenada

9) Just show up. Seventy percent of success in life is showing up (Woody Allen).

10) Medicine will be your life and work – not your lifes work. Don’t confuse the two. Be good at your work, but work at being a good man, woman, parent, spouse etc.  The best physician is a well rounded being.

This White Coat ceremony was started by the Arnold P Gold Foundation to impress upon students the importance of compassion, humility and dedication to the practice of medicine.  This ceremony bookends to the Hippocratic Oath and graduation and signifies your desire and dedication to the profession.

The white coat itself is emblematic of the scholar, physician and medicine. The challenge of laboratory studies, the high standards of practice and the stately demeanor of the diagnostician and healer.  That’s one crazy monochromatic coat.  Wearing that coat assigns great responsibility – to your community, your family and yourself.

Great Physicians are foremost great people. They are generous, kind, selfless, gregarious and good looking too.  In essence they are humanists. The Arnold P Gold Foundation also established the Gold Humanism Honor Society. During your tenure here you will hear of SGU efforts to foster and acknowledge humanism during your medical education.  Students will be encouraged to partake in activities outside of the classroom or hospital that result in substantive benefit to their community and fellow man.  Such commitment to a humanitarian activities while matriculated as a SGUSOM student may be rewarded by inclusion in the Gold Humanism Honor Society.

In closing, I hope that you will realize that Adversity and Adventure will define, develop and complete you as a person and physician.  Recognize lifes challenges – meet them, master them and most of all, enjoy them!

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time. “

Jack London (1876 – 1916), Jack London’s Tales of Adventure

Published 9/10/2007

St. George’s University School of Medicine and Northumbria University’ Welcome 2nd KBTGSP Class at White Coat Ceremony

sir kenneth stuartOn August 17, 2007 St. George’s University School of Medicine (SGUSOM) and Northumbria University’s School of Applied Sciences (NU) welcomed a new class of medical students into the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP).  This class has 119 students from 13 different countries, a significant increase from the 54 students in the January ‘07 charter class. The White Coat Ceremony marks the beginning of medical studies as the official entry into the profession of medicine.  Students don the white coat, a symbol of their chosen profession, and swear a professional oath, promising to act with integrity and in an ethical manner during their training and careers in medicine.

The Keynote Speaker was Professor Sir Kenneth Stuart, an accomplished academic who serves as a member of the Academic Board of SGU and the Board of Directors of the UK Trust for WINDREF.  A past Medical Adviser to the Commonwealth Secretariat, London, Sir Kenneth Stuart also served as Professor and Dean of the Department of Medicine at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica; a consultant at University Hospital, Jamaica; and consultant advisor to the Wellcome Trust.  He served as Chairman of the Court of Governors of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and as a member of the Council of Governors of Guys’, Kings and St. Thomas’ Hospitals Medical School, London.  Sir Kenneth Stuart has published many articles in medical journals on hepatic and cardiovascular disorders.  He is also a patron of Doctors for Human Rights and trustee of London Lighthouse.

The Master of Ceremonies was SGU alumni Zahida S. Chaudry, MD, SGU’05.  She gave a realistic and yet impassioned view of the practice of medicine.  They were joined by SGU’s Chancellor Charles R. Modica and NU’s Vice Chancellor Kel Fidler who both welcomed the students to St. George’s, Northumbria University and Newcastle, and the profession of medicine.Sir Kenneth Stuart inspired this new class during his keynote address, as he praised the SGUSOM and NU partnership for its “wisdom and foresight.” During the opening of his speech, he stated that in addition to being a special occasion for each individual student, this was a public occasion as well.  “This (occasion) is a public mark of a partnership between SGUSOM and NU, which, I predict, will make it the largest and most important international centre for medical education for years to come.

”Sir Kenneth Stuart captured the essence of SGU’s foundation and future endeavors as he spoke of the powerful unifying effects of universities working together toward a “sense of shared humanity.”  He compared SGU’s thirty-year journey of academic growth and international expansion to the exciting journey each student was about to begin.  He urged the class to set goals that are both fulfilling and substantial.

Sir Kenneth Stuart expressed that one of medicine’s challenges is the collective responsibility to strengthen the health care system globally.  This, he stressed, is a privileged position for doctors, “an international guild or brotherhood, where members can take up their calling in any part of the world and find colleagues whose traditions, methods and objectives are identical with theirs.”

Read Prof. Sir Kenneth Stuart’s complete keynote address.

Published 9/1/2007

St. George’s University School of Medicine and Univ. of Northumbria at Newcastle School of applied Science Inaugural White Coat Ceremony 18 August 2007 Address by Professor Sir Kenneth Stuart

Professor Sir Kenneth Stuart, an accomplished academic who serves as a member of the Academic Board of SGU and the Board of Directors of the UK Trust for WINDREF, compares SGU’s thirty-year journey of academic growth and international expansion to the exciting journey each student is about to begin. 

Chancellor Dr. Modica, Vice Chancellor Professor Fidler, Lord Walton, Dr. Rodney Croft, Dr. Rao, Dr. Chaudry, Dr. Baruha, Dr. Cheryl Macpherson, invited guests and colleagues and, in particular, the undergraduates, because it is primarily you whom I address today, my first words must be of congratulations on the profession you have chosen and of welcome to this, the first staging-post on your way towards it.

I am deeply flattered to have been able to join the long and distinguished list of St. George’s white coat speakers. Some of you might recall George Bernard Shaw’s words:  “What really flatters a man is that you think him worth flattering.” I am more than flattered by the invitation to deliver this address. I am deeply honoured.

This is both a personal and a pubic occasion. It is personal for you, the undergraduates, your families and your friends. You are embarking on the study of a profession that will inform your lives for years to come. It is also a public mark of a partnership between the St. George’s University School of Medicine and the University of Northumbria, which, I predict, will make it the largest and most important international centre for medical education for years to come.  I congratulate its architects for their wisdom and foresight.   There is an old African adage which says: “If you wish to go quickly, go alone; but if you wish to go far, go together.”  I am confident that the journey of this partnership will be long and fruitful.

International university collaboration

This partnership is characteristic of developments, already underway, that are hallmarks of the new world that globalization is calling into being. Universities working together towards shared interests and goals will have potentially powerful unifying effects for otherwise separate groups and for scattered communities.  They have special capabilities and provide special opportunities.  They can chart a path through different cultures and assist people of diverse backgrounds to work together towards a sense of a shared humanity. They can provide a much needed international educational outreach.

Achieving this is essential if we are to, in the words of Nelson Mandela, “make the world safe for diversity.” Never before have so many peoples and countries had so much in common; and yet never before have the issues that divide them been more numerous and threatening. I look to the time when there will be global networks of universities which will facilitate collaborative and educational exchanges worldwide.   There has been too much of a tendency for doctors and other health professionals to train and work in geographical, social and cultural isolation. We are now at a crossroads of international change – development, history, education and human spirit.  Vigorous initiatives towards exchanges between medical undergraduates and young graduates are now being catalyzed. Such exchanges are essential underpinnings for what is now being termed the ‘global village.’

It has been my privilege not only to witness but to participate in the unfolding excitement of the academic growth and international expansion of the St. George’s University School of Medicine for nearly 30 years. There are several reasons why I am confident that you, the new undergraduates, will find your own educational journey through the joint curriculum provided by the partnership between these two illustrious institutions exciting.

There aren’t many universities that would be able to offer part of their undergraduate training against a background of flowering frangipani, flaming poinsettias and the azure blue water of the Caribbean, a choice of undergraduate colleagues from more than 80 countries, a range of US and UK teaching hospitals for clinical studies, a selection of teachers and instructors from among the most highly qualified in the world and the best equipped undergraduate teaching laboratories to be found anywhere.

Undergraduate educational challenges

The period of training you are now embarking on will bring challenges and rewards for you yourselves as undergraduates and, yes, for your teachers as well. Teachers of medical undergraduates also have challenges.  My own most cherished and happiest memories, my greatest sense of challenge and achievement as a medical teacher dated back to November, 1954. The first class of young doctors from the University of the West Indies was about to graduate. Their graduation was, for all of us, their teachers and course instructors, a defining moment. For students and staff alike a wonderful experiment had now been accomplished. These young men and women will always hold a special place in my memories and affections. They had arrived five years before from Jamaica and several of the other West Indian islands as new undergraduates, like you today, at the recently established University of the West Indies. We, their teachers, had strived to train them to the highest standards and to inculcate them with the highest values of our profession.  They, the newest of our colleagues, were now, as you yourselves will be in a few short years, about to embark on their own careers.  In a life that later experienced many other professional rewards I still think of the graduation of that first medical class of the university of the West Indies as one of the highest points of my own professional career.

Let me early in my talk associate myself with the words of welcome and advice in Chancellor Modica’s message to you today: “As you begin your studies for this challenging career, you must weigh opportunity against responsibility.  St. George’s University will equip you with all the right tools for the job, but how much you take away will depend on how you approach the experience and how much effort you invest in it. I wish you every success”.

For success you will need special competences and skills. Their achievement can be summed up in one word: “work”. Professor William James, Harvard psychologist, had this message for young undergraduates: “Let none of you have any anxiety about the upshot of his education, whatever line it may be.  If he keeps busy each hour of the working day he may safely leave the final result to itself.  He can, with perfect certainty, count on waking up some fine morning to find himself one of the competent of his generation, in whatever pursuit he may have singled out.”  Students too often settle for a concept of education that is little more than instrumental, that contents itself with course work, with passing examinations.  But, although this may be a by-product, it can’t be a goal.  The goal must be something larger, more fulfilling, more substantial; something that will not only provide a context for what you do know, but will tell you how to use it; something that will chart a course for what you might become rather than merely validate what you have learned; something that will enable you not only to adapt to tomorrow’s changes, but to play leadership roles in effecting them.

Indeed a measure of the success of your education will be the capacity it will give you not only to adapt to change but to manage and direct it, to be aware of the gap between what can be done and what is being done, to be willing to challenge assumptions about the current reality, to shake things up, to persevere and to give leadership.

It is you, the younger people, who provide the vital links between a community’s aspirations and its achievements.  It is you who will have a significant influence on future medical orientations as you practice your professions.  It will be up to you to have the courage and self assurance to resist distractions from medicine’s highest ideals, the confidence to do things differently, the optimism that what you do can make a difference. It is at the undergraduate stage of your careers that first steps in this direction, the preparation for these roles, must be taken.

Medical professionalism

Let me take this opportunity to remind you of some of the obligations, responsibilities and commitments the practice of medicine will entail. In his message to you today Dean Weitzman urges you to “recognize that in entering the field of medicine, you join a community, wherein the team is as pivotal to success as individual effort.  To this end, you must strive for excellence in your pursuit of knowledge, for you can only give your best when you fulfill your potential.  As you don these white physician coats, you pledge an oath of professionalism and service. Professionalism is a commitment to integrity, altruism, competence and ethics in the service of others.”

A description of medical professionalism from London’s Royal College of Physicians sets out these values, behaviours and relationships at greater length: “Medicine is a vocation in which a doctor’s knowledge, clinical skills and judgment are put in the service of protecting and restoring human well-being.  This purpose is realized through a partnership between patient and doctor, one based on mutual respect, individual responsibility and appropriate accountability. These values, which underpin the science and practice of medicine, form the basis for a moral contract between the medical profession and society. Each party has a duty to work to strengthen the system of health care on which our collective human dignity depends.”

I must hasten to add, however, that the practice of medicine is more than the performance of a set of ritual medical duties, the meeting of formal codified historical obligations. For most of you, I predict, it will also prove, as it has for me, a privilege to be able to be of such personal and continuing service to others; a pleasure to have an opportunity on a daily base to share a common humanity with so many people; to give encouragement, to share confidences, to be of assistance when needed. Dr. Chaudry notes that “while the field of medicine is challenging, the rewards and personal satisfaction are immeasurable.”

Medicine: its global reach

I must refer briefly to medicine’s global reach.  In his 1983 commencement address to the graduating class of St. George’s University School of Medicine, the late Lord Pitt stressed that “Medicine is international.  The fight against disease and, more important, the securing of good health, cannot be confined within national boundaries.”

In sharing certain basic interests, values, educational standards and goals, medicine functions in a field that has no inherent barriers.  It is an international guild or brotherhood, where members can take up their calling in any part of the world and find colleagues whose traditions, methods and objectives are identical with theirs.

This privileged position for doctors as world citizens carries with it globally accepted understandings and accords that extend beyond national to international health concerns. The doctor’s role in the protection and promotion of health, his acceptance of standards of competence, professional ethics and responsibilities have a worldwide extension; remain the bed-rock of medical practice everywhere.

Some unresolved medical issues

You might also wish me to share with you some of my own perceptions about a number of anomalies and contradictions that litter today’s medical landscape and cloud the horizons against which you will work during your professional lives. Practices related to medical drug usage and disease prevention are examples.

The tactics of the international pharmaceutical industry has led to a global hypochondria about how disease should be approached – ‘a pill for every ill’. It must bear much of the responsibility for the intellectual astigmatism with which so many doctors and so much of the public currently views issues of health and disease; in Britain today half of the adult population and a third of children take some form of medication every day. Two centuries ago Philippe Pinel, French psychiatrist and physician, said: “It is an art of no little importance to administer medicines properly: but, it is an art of much greater and more difficult acquisition to know when to suspend or altogether to omit them.”

Disease prevention is also an aspect of health on which there is not likely to be much disagreement.  For most medical disorders prevention is clearly cheaper, more humane and more effective than intervention or treatment after they occur.  This observation is hardly new; but it gives us the opportunity to look back critically at the past and forward to opportunities for the future.

The diseases that kill most people worldwide – the so-called non-communicable diseases, diseases caused not by infection but by how people live their lives – could be avoided by preventive action, by modifications of lifestyle, by activities that would make individuals more effective custodians of their own health than they have been in the past; that would make them more self-reliant, less dependent on doctors and other specially trained health professionals. Progress will continue to be made by improvements in the treatment of diseases and by the provision of more and better facilities for health care; but the opportunities for improving health by the prevention of disease are even greater.

I invite  your reflection, even at this undergraduate stage of your medical careers, on why prevention has failed so far to engage more fully the attention of the medical profession, on why prevention has not become a more important element in the health expectations of the public; on the distinction between medicine as a social institution and medicine in its more limited role of caring for the sick; on how in its larger role medicine could come to grips with the wider issues that influence health; on the meaning of health and how this meaning might be made more central to the concerns of both medical education and medical practice.

Sir Ian Kennedy’s comment is relevant; “If we were to start all over again to design a model for modern medicine, most of us, I am sure, would opt for a design which concerned itself far more with the pursuit and preservation of health, of well being.  What we have instead is the very opposite, a system of medicine which reacts, which responds, which waits to pick up the broken pieces – a form of medicine, in short, concerned with illness, not health.  A moment’s thought demonstrates the folly of this.”

Concluding comments

Let me conclude, as I started, with advice especially for you, the undergraduates. I will quote for you a comment from Sir William Osler’s “Aequanimitas” – ‘Peace of mind’, which, I will add, each doctor should strive for.  Sir William was the best-known physician in the English-speaking world at the turn of the 20th century. He has been called the “most influential physician in history.” I recommend the reading of Osler to undergraduates and graduates alike.  He emphasized the need for a renewal of emphasis on human values.  “Medicine”, he pointed out, “is the only one of the great professions engaging, equally, head and heart and hand. To an inquisitive mind the study of medicine may become an absorbing passion full of fascinating problems, so many of which present a deep human interest.

”More than two thousand years earlier the Roman orator, Cicero, in his treatise, “De Senectute”, (On Old Age) gave advice to older people: “Remain interested and never stop learning.” This advice is as relevant for you and your generation as it has been for me and mine.

I should like to link for you Osler’s comments to Cicero’s advice. Together they mean that a good beginning for each of you might be, as a personal responsibility, to ensure, firstly, continuity of the medical education you will receive in the coming years and, secondly, that your continuing medical education, whatever form it takes, should have human values as a central objective.  Senior citizens like me can provide valuable experiences from the past and useful guidelines for the future.  Much of the responsibility, however, of meeting tomorrow’s challenges will rest on your shoulders; and many of these challenges will have not only scientific but highly significant human dimensions as well.  This is why the human perspectives of the period of training you are now about to embark on will be as important as the scientific – and not only for the success of your future practice as doctors but also for the quality of the benefits you will both bring to, and derive from, the communities and specialties in which you elect to work.

Published 9/1/2007

St. George’s University Makes an Impact at Annual American Association of Clinical Anatomists (AACA) Meeting

table photo from 24th annual aacaAt the 24th Annual American Association of Clinical Anatomists (AACA) in Las Vegas, NV from June 17-June 20, 2007, SGU’s Department of Anatomical Sciences proved that strength in numbers has its exceptions.  While SGU sent 22 honor students from the Students Clinical Research Society (SCRS) to last year’s conference, this year’s smaller demonstrated enormous professionalism, knowledge and dedication.

Dr. Marios Loukas, Associate Professor of Anatomical Sciences and Dr. Robert Jordan, Professor and Department Chair of Anatomical Sciences, were joined by two PhD students, Cara Fisher and Candice Myers, one SGUSOM student, Christopher Kinsella and the Research Fellow from Turkey, Dr. Nihal Apaydin.  With the vast majority of SCRS students back in Grenada taking exams, this unified group of six represented their team honorably and successfully.

SCRS is a student driven organization established by Dr. Loukas which promotes communication and instills team work values critically beneficial to students involved in meaningful anatomical research.  Currently, SCRS students have co-authored 30 papers published in peer reviewed journals and 22 abstracts presented as oral or poster presentation in congresses.

Christopher Kinsela and Dr. Loukas presented a paper entitled “Anatomical research, a teaching method in career guidance.”  This was an educational study which demonstrates the intrinsic value of research for a student’s overall academic success.  The study found a direct correlation with student GPA’s and their participation in research.  Students involved in research had a higher GPA at the end of their Basic Sciences when compared with an identical group of GPA’s of non-research students.

Dr. Loukas, a longtime attendee to AACA meetings, said “….our example of blending quality teaching and research experience has been widely accepted as an ideal model for anatomy education. More and more US schools are following our example (SCRS model) regarding anatomy education. The Department of Anatomy at AlbertEinsteinCollege of Medicine has initiated a similar program. Their students are in direct communication with our SGU SCRS students in order to get all necessary details to set up their program.” Dr. Loukas and his team look forward to the presentation being published.

Published 7/30/2007

NYC’s Health and Hospital Corporation and St. George’s University Agreement

two doctors with patientYesterday, at the Board of Directors meeting of New York City’s Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) it was announced that St. George’s University in Grenada has been selected as the exclusive international medical school to utilize the HHC system for training its third and fourth year medical students.

Students from other non-US schools will be allowed to finish currently scheduled rotations, but under the terms of the agreement, no new rotations will be scheduled for any students other than those attending St. George’s and U.S. accredited medical schools.

Under the terms of the agreement and over the course of the intended 10 years of the contract, St. George’s University will pay HHC an estimated 100 million USD, and will be guaranteed a minimum of 600 training positions.  This is the largest single affiliation agreement for the  clinical training of SGU’s clinical students in the University’s history.

Chancellor Charles Modica spoke at the meeting and voiced his enthusiasm for this agreement, “This agreement will ensure that New York City hospitals will continue to recruit the finest international medical graduates for their residency programs, so vital for the city’s excellent health care.  The agreement makes HHC a major partner in the education of St. George’s University medical students as it assists in the training of tomorrow’s doctors.”  Chancellor Modica pointed out that although St. George’s University does not have enough students at present in their clinical program to fill these HHC training slots, the agreement allows for the slow phasing in of SGU’s larger classes over the next two years.     Chancellor Modica finished his remarks with  “St. George’s University is proud to enter into this agreement.  We know that this is a win-win for the University, its students, the HHC and the people of New York City.”

The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), is the largest municipal hospital and health care system in the country which serves 1.3 million New Yorkers and nearly 400,000 who are uninsured.  HHC provides medical, mental health and substance abuse services through its 11 acute care hospitals, four skilled nursing facilities, six large diagnostic and treatment centers and more than 80 community based clinics.

Published on 7/27/07

St. George’s University School of Medicine Student Captivates Panel at American College of Physicians (ACP) Conference

acp sgu logosAt the annual American College of Physicians (ACP) Conference in San Diego, CA, SGUSOM student Raymond Craciun received kudos for his case report on the revolutionary effects of Botulinum toxin (Botox) injections for refractory gastroparesis, a gastric disorder common in diabetics.  As a resident at St. Barnabas Hospital in Livingston, New Jersey, Raymond Craciun was assigned to a patient who was being treated with the toxin for this condition.

While Botox has gained notoriety for its use as cosmetic age-defying agent, it is a viable and effective treatment for many branches of medicine.  Raymond Craciun was not as familiar with its exact indications and overall benefit, and decided to research its use further, in part, to combat the many misconceptions of the toxin.

With the support of other residents in the program and Dr. Schuman, the overseeing Gastroenterologist, Craciun began to research the topic, compile information and prepare a case report.

With the encouragement of SGU’s Dean Weitzman and SGUSOM colleague and friend Greg Tiesi, himself a 2006 ACP finalist  and the first SGU student to present at the ACP Conference, Raymond Craciun submitted his report to the ACP for consideration.With 3,000 submissions, the ACP selected a total of 70 finalist presentations, divided equally in two categories including a medical research group and a clinical vignette group. Raymond Craciun’s case report was presented and evaluated by an esteemed panel of judges at the National ACP Conference in the category of clinical vignette group.  His effective and comprehensive presentation received an impressive response.  “Most importantly,” said Craciun, “I felt tremendous pride representing the SGUSOM community and hope that the overall exposure helped our school and all of its students to gain well-deserved recognition and praise.”

Craciun’s experience at the conference and with the ACP organization as a whole is one he will not soon forget.  The ACP is a valuable resource for all medical students as it provides mentoring programs, residency information, volunteering opportunities and a variety of educational programs.  Each state has a local chapter, and membership for medical students is free.  Raymond Craciun has met with Dr. Sara Wallach, ACP NJ Chapter Governor, and plans to approach and encourage more SGUSOM students to get involved.

Published on 5/30/07

Ceremony Memorializes the Late Keith B. Taylor

keith b taylor portraitOn Friday evening, May 11th, colleagues, friends and family of the esteemed Dr. Keith B. Taylor convened in the Bourne Lecture Hall on True Blue Campus to pay tribute to a man who left his mark on all who were present.

The evening was a shared celebration of a life that was by all accounts extraordinary. Dr. Taylor’s professional achievements include many awards and prizes during his medical school years and postgraduate work as he began a lifetime of achievement in research and clinical medicine.  Having been published extensively in international peer reviewed journals and book chapters; he was widely regarded as the leading authority on many areas of gastroenterology.

His knowledge and leadership played a critical role in transforming St. George’s University from a medical school which was the first and the best of its kind in the Caribbean, to an international, world-class University with many schools and programs, a vibrant research institute in WINDREF and a beautiful and purpose built campus.

The memorial ceremony was particularly relevant as it preceded the commencement ceremony of the School of Arts and Sciences and Graduate Studies Program.  The timing is befitting, as Dr. Taylor’s dedication and passion was the driving force behind the creation of the SAS, as well as partnerships with many international institutions.

Perhaps his greatest accomplishment however is not visible on paper or in stone.  Dr. Taylor will be remembered most for his kindness and humility.  As colleagues shared stories of a man they admired and respected, they also spoke of a friend they will deeply miss. Three of Dr. Taylor’s children, Dan, Kate and Sebastian were present at the ceremony and graciously honored their father’s memory.

Earlier that day Dr. Charles R. Modica and Dr. C.R. House were among many faculty and guests present at a sod turning ceremony for Keith B. Taylor Hall to be built on the lower True Blue Campus.

Published 5/14/2007

Agreement Signed by St. George’s University and the Ministry of Health to Improve the General Hospital

dr charles modica and senator ann-david antoineSGU’s Chancellor, Dr. Charles R. Modica and the Minister of Health and the Environment, the Honourable Senator Ann-David Antoine signed a Memoranda of Understanding for a Virtual Staff Project and Hospital Accreditation Scheme to improve the quality of care available to patients at the General Hospital.

The following provides a summary of the Memoranda of Understanding:

Virtual Staff Project

The Memorandum of Understanding makes provision for the University, through the School of Medicine’s Alumni Association and the Ministry of Health to recruit healthcare professionals to serve as embedded coaches, teachers and mentors in the General Hospital.

The main aim of the Virtual Staff Project is to expand the capacity of the General Hospital, improve the quality of care for its patients and provide an environment for supporting the training of health care professionals. The virtual staff would be St. George’s University School of Medicine alumni in the main, supported by other healthcare professionals.  The primary role of the staff would be teaching, rounding, and coaching, to be accomplished by spending time on ward rounds, in the operating room, working with hospital leadership, and providing ongoing lecturing and mentoring series. The Emergency Medicine department will be used as the pilot, and the other departments would be brought on line as the project develops.

The project will run for approximately two years and will be reviewed after that period to determine the impact and the feasibility of further extension.

Hospital Accreditation

An improvement in the quality of care, patient outcomes and patient experience in the Grenada health care system is a concern for both the University and the Ministry of Health. Both parties understand that a healthy population contributes to overall development. Additionally, the onset of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) makes it imperative for the Grenada health system to be competitive regionally and internationally. Finally, the General Hospital needs to be recognized as a teaching hospital to support the rotation of the University’s medical students.

The University and the Ministry see the accreditation of the General Hospital and the Ambulatory Care system as an appropriate response to concerns regarding the quality of the healthcare delivery system in the country.  The Memorandum of Understanding makes provision for the University and the Ministry to work together to support the accreditation process in the General Hospital and for the maintenance of quality standards once accreditation is achieved.

Published on April 3, 2007

Grenada’s New Ambassador Presents Credentials At the United Nations

Dr Angus Friday and Ban Ki-MoonOn Grenada’s 33rd Anniversary of Independence Grenada’s new Ambassador to the United Nations, His Excellency Dr. Angus Friday (left), a graduate of St. George’s University School of Medicine, presented his credentials to UN Secretary General, His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon.The February 7 ceremony took place at UN headquarters in New York and was attended by Marguerite St. John, counselor at the Grenada Mission. Also presenting credentials on that day were the new ambassadors for Slovenia and Timor-Leste.

In accepting Dr. Friday’s credentials, the Secretary General noted the special significance of the day for Grenada and extended his congratulations to its government and people.  Commenting on the occasion, Ambassador Friday said, “It was a special honor to have this ceremony on Grenada’s Independence Day.  I thank the Government of Grenada for its confidence in me. With my team here at the UN, I look forward to contributing in areas that affect developing states”.  He also intends to help Grenada’s development by generating interest in Grenada’s investment opportunities.

Dr. Angus Friday is the son of the late Dr. Stan Friday OBE, who served as the Associate Dean of Clinical Studies at St. George’s University and also as Grenada’s Chief Medical Officer.  Angus graduated from St. George’s University at a ceremony held at the United Nations in the Summer of 1991.  Recalling his time at SGU he says, “I fondly remember Dr. Nelly Golarz telling me that I can achieve anything that I want; that was very inspirational.  Dr. Rao and Dr. Pensick were also supportive.”  After graduation he served as a junior doctor at the Grenada General Hospital before traveling to Scotland to complete an MBA degree.  He remained in London for ten years thereafter as an entrepreneur in medical information technology developing two software companies, one with Johnson and Johnson and the other with venture capital.  He returned to Grenada in 2004 to support the family business (Glenelg Spring Water) and to help with Grenada’s economic development.  He served as deputy chairman on the Grenada Board of Tourism and as director of Petro Caribe and he helped develop Grenada’s National Strategic Plan and its National Export Strategy.

He commented, “St. George’s University has contributed significantly to Grenada’s economic development and has been an outstanding example of successful entrepreneurship on the part of Chancellor Modica and his team.  Grenada needs to build on this with more international educational services, offshore health services, health tourism and biopharmaceuticals, starting with herbal medicines.”   The University, he hopes, may one day play an important role in incubating such projects.  Dr. Friday welcomes any interest from alumni in developing projects in Grenada.

Grenada’s stated purpose at the United Nations is “to promote and pursue Grenada’s interest within the community of nations, and to enhance Grenada’s image and its development.”  Ambassador Friday intends to contribute to this mission and support the efforts of Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, especially regarding the environment.  Dr. Friday noted, “Vulnerable small island states such as Grenada have an important role to play on issues related to global warming”.  He hopes that there may be scope to liaise with St. George’s University on related topics (such as coral reef bleaching) which are important for the 43 small island states represented at the UN.

Dr. Friday also said that he intends to seek partners for the development of Grenada.  He noted, “We would like to see Grenada as a natural choice in forming partnerships for development with our friends in the international community.  With its stable political climate and low crime rate, Grenada is moving forward at a steady and sustainable pace.”  He also hopes to interest Grenadians living in New York to invest in their homeland.  “Given some of the major developments coming on stream, the time is opportune for Grenadians and others to invest in Grenada and to share in the benefits of the island’s economic growth”.

He concluded, noting:  “At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and here at the Mission in New York, I’m delighted to be supported by a very good team of committed individuals who have already displayed a high degree of professionalism.  I am also grateful to have the support of New York Consul General the honourable Allen McGuire.  Working together, I am confident that we should see a number of positive results for Grenada in the months ahead.”

Sourced by
Trevor P. Noël
with permission from the Grenada UN Mission

Published 2/23/2007

Professor Ian McConnell Delivers the Thirteenth Annual Geoffrey H. Bourne Memorial Lecture

Professor Ian McConnell Balck and White PortraitThe Thirteenth Annual Bourne Lecture was delivered by Professor Ian McConnell on the evening of February 12, 2007 at the True Blue campus in Grenada.  Professor McConnell presented on the topic: One Medicine: A Continuum of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science, focusing on the interplay between the three fields.

The lecture drew upon Professor McConnell’s distinguished career in research, specifically in the immunology of infectious diseases of animals and man.  One Medicine has been a consistent theme of his extensive research and teaching.  Throughout his research career he has exploited uniqueness offered by animal physiology and animal disease problems to gain insights into basic aspects of immunology and pathology of diseases importance to both veterinary and comparative medicine.

Professor McConnell is Professor of Veterinary Science and Director of Research at the University of Cambridge, England.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE), Founder Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists, and Professorial Fellow at Darwin College Cambridge.  He graduated in veterinary medicine from the University of Glasgow and in Natural Sciences (Pathology) from the University of Cambridge.  He carried out his doctoral studies (PhD) in immunology in the laboratory of Prof. RRA Coombs in the Department of Pathology, Cambridge.

Professor McConnell has 150 scientific publications which focus on studies on the immune system in health and disease, with particular focus on infectious diseases of man and animals including zoonotic diseases transmissible to man.  He was principal author of two editions of a highly successful book on the Immune System – a major undergraduate textbook in immunology.

He has made many fundamental discoveries on the immune system, particularly in the area of membrane receptors on lymphocytes, the role of the complement system in viral immunity lymphocyte physiology, and unique studies on immunity and pathogenesis of a naturally occurring ruminant lentivirus (maedi visna virus – MVV) – which is a prototype AIDS virus.  His research has provided unique insights into immune physiology and the pathogenesis of lentiviral infections of man and animals.  His current research is on the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) and is focused on the mechanisms whereby prions which cause scrapie in sheep are able to invade the central nervous system.

Professor McConnell is recognized as an authority on infectious diseases of livestock, and through chairmanship and membership of several key Government and Royal Society Committees in animal and human health, has played a leading role in top-level Government Committees dealing with BSE, the Royal Society’s Inquiry into Foot and Mouth Disease, and more recently the Nuffield Council Inquiry on the ethics of research involving animals.  He was chairman of the Vaccination Subgroup for the Royal Society’s Inquiry  into Foot and Mouth Disease which led to the UK Government’s decision that emergency vaccination would be used in any future outbreak of FMD in the UK.  This is a major policy shift for the UK Animal Health Authorities.  As a member of the UK’s main advisory committee on spongiform encephalopathies (SEAC), he has been involved in scientific and advisory issues relating to transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) of animals and man.  He has also had a widespread involvement with the food industry through his expertise in diseases transmitted to man through the food chain.

For a synopsis of Prof. McConnell’s lecture “One Medicine: A Continuum of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science” please see: Bourne Lecture.

Published 2/20/2007